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Bunheads Hardcover – October 10, 2011

73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"At turns riveting, hilarious and bittersweet, Bunheads provides a backstage pass into the world of elite New York City ballet dancers. I got swept up in their routines and habits, their triumphs and disappointments, and their deep friendships, which thrive even in the face of fierce competition. This is at once a romantic page-turner and a thoughtful exploration of just how much true artists are willing to give up for their art." J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times bestselling author of Commencement and Maine



"A must-read for every young dancer! Sophie Flack takes us inside the world of the professional dancer, sparing nothing, and weaving a poignant, honest coming-of-age story that will keep you turning pages."

Davida Willis Hurwin, author of A Time For Dancing, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults

"A multi-layered and absorbing good read by a promising debut novelist."

Kirkus (starred review)

"Exhilaration and drudgery, passion and exhaustion, exist side by side for dancers in the exalted Manhattan Ballet, a world unto itself, which Flack (a former New York City Ballet dancer) brings vividly to life in this strong debut."―Publishers Weekly

"In Bunheads, author Sophie Flack takes readers into all the drama, camaraderie, disappointment, jealousy, exultation, and physical and emotional pain in the life of a corps ballet dancer for a prestigious New York ballet company. . . Ms Flack writes with absolutely authority about a lifestyle she herself lived for nine years, and about what happens when lifelong dreams collide with the needs of the heart. " Lurlene McDaniel, author of Breathless and A Rose for Melinda

About the Author

Sophie Flack danced with the New York City Ballet from 2000 until 2009. She is currently studying English at Columbia University. Bunheads is her first novel.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Poppy; 1 edition (October 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316126533
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316126533
  • ASIN: 0316126535
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #873,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Sophie Flack danced with the New York City Ballet from 2000 to 2009. She lives and writes in New York City, and has contributed to the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, O Magazine, and Ballet Review. Bunheads is her first novel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Madigan McGillicuddy on October 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
19 year-old Hannah Ward has given up most of her childhood in pursuit of her dreams... a spot in the corps de ballet of the famous Manhattan Ballet Company. As a very worldly teenager, she's already been living in Manhattan for several years, and is slowly but surely attempting to work her way to the top of the heap in her clique-ish, exclusive world.

When I first heard about this book, I thought for certain it would be some kind of exploration of body issues, and maybe an anorexia book with touches of evil competitiveness a lá Black Swan. That is the stereotype of the hard-driving, ambitious, slightly-crazy ballerina, right? I was pleased that the book dispels those ideas immediately. Hannah's not anorexic - she's always been naturally slim. It's just her natural body type. She eats healthy, but "cheats" every now and then with a big bowl of pasta or (thanks to lax city bartenders) the occasional glass of wine. She doesn't hate her fellow dancers - they are her best friends and constant companions. She doesn't even consider herself a true "ballerina." She's a ballet dancer, but she's not a star. For her, it's a living.

Flack's own experience as a dancer lends lots of realistic details to the book. Hannah and her friends are heartily sick of The Nutcracker, a perennial audience favorite which is physically challenging yet artistically boring. They are tired of having to dance through filthy re-used plastic snow every night, which then wends it's way into everything: hair, clothes, even the utensil drawer at home ends up with stray bits of dirty white fluff.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Miss Print VINE VOICE on February 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Nineteen-year-old Hannah Ward is not a ballerina, not yet anyway. A dancer with the Manhattan Ballet Company, Hannah knows this is her year to finally land a coveted promotion from corps dancer to soloist. It has to be. Recruited by the Company when she was fourteen, Hannah has been working toward this singular goal for her entire life.

On a rare night off, Hannah meets a pedestrian--a non-dancer--named Jacob. A free-spirited musician, Jacob's life is everything Hannah's is not, filled with freedom from the regimen and commitments being a professional dancer entails.

As Hannah spends more time with Jacob and moves closer to her ballerina dream, she starts to wonder if ballet really is enough. It always had been before, but now Hannah isn't so sure. Ballerinas are supposed to dedicate themselves to dance, but Hannah might be ready to dedicate her life to other pursuits in Bunheads (2011) by Sophie Flack.

Bunheads is Flack's first novel. It was also a finalist for the 2011 Cybils in Young Adult Fiction.

As a novel, 'Bunheads' falls short in several areas. Informed by her own experiences as a professional dancer (Flack danced with the New York City Ballet from 2000 to 2009) much of the novel feels indulgent and more like an exercise in wish-fulfillment on the author's part than an actual story.

Hannah and Jacob's immediate connection never feels authentic which raises questions about both character's behavior throughout. Combined with a meandering, slow-paced plot the book often lacks the verve to keep things interesting.

With Hannah and her friends being wholly consumed by dance, there is little room for character development.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Fuller on October 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Bunheads by Sophie Flack is a behind the scenes look at what it is like to dance in the Manhattan Ballet. The book is full of authentic dance terms and really provides the reader with a strong sense of what pains men and women go through to progress in this highly demanding and very specific world of Ballet. I love that the author was a ballerina, and she neither over-glorifies nor horrifies this crazy world. I was very interested in the story-line; which is basically: will Hannah push herself even harder for that next dance solo and give up more of her world outside of the theater, or will she pursue other relationships and make new goals for herself because the cost of success is just too high?

Maybe it is because of the place I currently am in my life; but I really resonate with the hard decision that Hannah has to make. I feel like we grow up believing we can do not just anything we set our mind to, but we can do everything! It is only recently, with the addition of my little girl that my list of interests and dreams far outweigh my schedule and energy. This is a hard thing to accept. You cannot do it all and excellence comes at a price. That's why I loved the character combination of disciplined Hannah and passionate Jacob- the aspiring musician (as well as many other hobbies) The perfection Hannah achieves costs her other life experiences. She finally realizes, with help from her friend Bea that in life: "you have to make up your mind. You can either have a life, or you can dance. But you can't have it both ways... you have to make a choice." (p. 279

I loved how the author didn't make this a right or wrong question; either option would be fine. Hannah (and all of us) just needs to understand the cost of ambitions and then accept the effort/sacrifice needed to achieve. This is a coming of age story different than most you will find out there. The writing is simple and honest and it worked.
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